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Stakeholders kick as Navy returns to Ports

Eyewitness reporter
Stakeholders in the maritime industry have condemned the planned return of the Nigeria Navy to the nation’s seaports.
It would be recalled that the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, last week during a webinar to mark the 100 days of the service chiefs in office, disclosed that the Navy has secured the approval of the government to return to the ports, 30 years after they left.
The government, according to Vice Admiral Gambo, wanted the Navy back at the ports to check the indiscriminate entry of small arms through the Ports.
“We have realised that arms are circulating indiscriminately and their effects are devastating. Our efforts in combating their proliferation must therefore be viewed as contributing to the good, rather than a zero-sum game.
“The Navy has been out of the ports for three decades. We are working with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to establish port commandant at the seaports.’’ the Naval Chief has said.
However, industry players have unanimously described the return of the Navy to the ports as unnecessary which is capable of adding to the costs of goods clearance at the ports.
Kayode Farinto, the Vice President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) mocked the planned return of the Navy to the ports as ‘their desire to want to be part of the National cake’
“They simply wanted to be part of examination of cargo where they can have their own share of the National cake” Farinto declared derisively.
He said the move portrays that Government is confused and lacks initiative on how to tackle the rising insecurity in the country.
Farinto, who declared that the Navy will merely constitute a nuisance at the ports the way they did in  1993/94, wondered what value they will add to the operations of the port other than to encumber the process.
“About 90 percent of arms and ammunitions come through the unapproved routes and not the ports.
So government should deploy them to areas where there are gaps in the security architecture of the country”
According to him, the Nigeria Customs, despite lack of scanners, is doing a yeoman job with the support of others security agencies such as Immigration, SSS, and the Police to effectively monitor the Ports.
Similarly, Rev. Jonathan Nicol, the  President of Shippers Association of Lagos State (SALS), agreed with Farinto when he declared that small arms come through the porous borders and not through the ports.
He believed the Navy has no business at the ports but should concentrate on our territorial waters, especially the Gulf of Guinea which he said is infested with lots of criminality.
 “Nigeria Customs is para-military and saddled with the responsibility of opening up containers for examination and I am convinced they are up to the task.”

“The Nigerian Navy should be concerned with our territorial waters and the Gulf of Guinea (GoG), where we have so many security challenges bedeviling the country.

“Already, we have government agencies at the port doing almost the same thing such that it is difficult to exit cargoes from the seaports, so why will they want to add to the burden?” he queried.

“They should concentrate on the coastal waters where piracy is expected to be combated. Also, I believe that the bulk of the small arms and ammunition are not coming in through the seaports but through the porous borders because of the hassles involved in 100 percent examination.

“There is already a technology from the Nigerian Shippers Council to track and see cargoes, so they should key into that initiative to know the types of cargoes that will be coming into the country.

“We don’t need an additional agency at the port because shippers that own cargoes coming to Nigerian seaports are already overburdened by the activities of government agencies at the port.”, Rev. Nicol declared.

Otunba Frank Ogunojemite, the National President, Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics in Nigeria (APFFLON), believed that the Navy at the seaports would not solve the proliferation of light and small arms into the country.

They will rather, according to him, add to the cumbersome nature of cargo clearance.
Ogunojemite asked the government to ensure the implementation of the Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) which he believed will help to know the type of cargo coming into the country, whether small arms are in them.
“Also, the government should collaborate with countries of origin because most containers busted are due to information from the country of origin.
“Also, what is wrong with the scanners at the seaports? The government should put them into work also. They should inform us about the purchase of scanners. We should put the scanners into use and they should function accordingly.”
He also asked Government to deploy technology to monitor the nation’s porous borders where he said these arms and ammunitions are coming through.
However, Farinto noted that if eventually, the Navy returns back to the ports, Nigeria will become a laughing stock among the comity of maritime nations because this negates the international best practices.
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Danish court returns guilty verdict on Nigerian pirate —- remands him in prison

The Eyewitness reporter

A Danish court on Monday found a Nigerian guilty of endangering the lives of Danish military personnel in a shooting incident last November involving Denmark’s navy and a crew of suspected Nigerian pirates in the Gulf of Guinea.

However, the court declined to sentence the Nigerian, Lucky Frances, 40, despite a call from the prosecutor for a prison sentence of 12 to 15 months.

As part of international anti-piracy efforts, Denmark deployed a frigate to the Gulf of Guinea in October last year.

The following month, it intervened in an alleged attack on a commercial vessel, killing four pirates and capturing four other suspects.

“The court emphasized that the 40-year-old Nigeria, together with the other perpetrators, fulfilled all the signs of piracy and had to be described as a pirate group,” Copenhagen city court said in a statement.

Frances, who was injured during a firefight with Danish navy personnel in the November clash, was taken to Denmark for prosecution in January after being treated at a hospital in Ghana.

 Danish authorities deemed it unsafe to release him in Ghana. His leg was amputated as a result of his injuries.

Frances was exempted from any legal consequences due to his medical condition and the fact that charges against the other three suspected pirates had been dropped, his lawyer Jesper Storm Thygesen told Reuters.

Charges against the three other suspected Nigerian pirates were dropped in January after Denmark failed to find a country in the region to take them.

They were released from detention on the frigate and put to sea in a small dinghy in the Gulf of Guinea.

Frances will remain in custody until both sides have decided whether to appeal against the verdict, Thygesen said.

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Possession of NIN by passengers now requirement for boarding trains—Sambo


— as government shifts resumption of Abuja-Kaduna rail services to December
The Eyewitness reporter
As part of the multi-layer security measures put in place on the troubled Abuja-Kaduna train route, the federal government has announced that no passenger will be allowed to buy tickets for train services without a National Identification Number (NIN).
In addition, no minor will be allowed onboard unless registered by an adult with a NIN who cannot register more than four minors per trip.
Reviewing the security measures put in place ahead of the resumption of the Abuja-Kaduna train route, the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, said these and other security initiatives which the government has taken are necessary to forestall the reoccurrence of the sad event which occurred on March 28th, 2022 on the route when the train was derailed by insurgents who killed and kidnapped passengers.
The minister, who on Sunday at Kaduna expressed satisfaction over the level of security measures in place, also said the steps taken so far will also stop ticket racketeering which has been the order of the day among the railway staff on the route.
The Minister also expressed confidence that the measures put in place are adequate enough for the train service to commence.” There is sensitive equipment that we have deployed that I will not reveal. The other thing I can tell you is that for every journey, the train is monitored every second on the screen.

” The train driver can see from a distance if there are any threats on the tracts that will enable him to match the break long before getting to the threat, and that is why I am telling you confidently,” said the Minister.

The Minister debunked the rumour that train services will resume on Monday, adding that the newly introduced measures will delay the resumption of business along the corridor for a few more days for passengers to get acquainted with the new protocol involved in train boarding before it will resume services.

“We have not said that train services will start tomorrow. I want to be very categorical about that.

“Now, we have introduced a new system before you buy a ticket. The purchase of a ticket requires you to provide a phone number and a national identification number in order to profile you because that is the beginning of the security checks. So at any point in time when a train moves from one station to another, we know who and who are on board.

“If you don’t have a NIN you are not going to board our train, it is as simple as that. If you are a minor, an adult will register for you and an adult can only register for not more than four minors.

“Now, we want to give sufficient time for the Nigerian public to listen to these two requirements, to assimilate this new system.

“So if you go and start tomorrow, a lot of people will be disgruntled. Why didn’t they tell us that this is a new way of doing it? Why didn’t they give us adequate time to do it? So we want to give you adequate time. Definitely between 3,4,5 days, certainly not more than a week.

Sambo assured Nigerians that a smooth and secured train ride is guaranteed while noting that the trains will not travel at night for now, while there is also going to be a review in train fares.

“I can assure you that we are a compassionate government and will consider the masses in the review of the train fare.”

We are not going to tell you what we have done. It is a security matter and I have no apologies for that.

“We’ll be monitoring it on a daily basis and improve on wherever we find some snags”.

“The ticketing called e-ticketing has already been contracted to a company, called secure ID. That concession has gone through the entire concession process under extant laws, including approval by the Federal Executive Council. So that concession remains in place for the duration of the concession period, which I think is 10 years”.

Sambo said that although only God can guarantee maximum security, he assured Nigerians that everything is in place to guarantee a secured and smooth train ride.

“We are not going to tell you what we have done. It is a security matter and I have no apologies for that.

“We’ll be monitoring it on a daily basis and improve on wherever we find some snacks”.

The Minister assured that Secured ID would continue to handle the e-ticketing services.

“The ticketing called e-ticketing has already been contracted to a company called secure ID. That concession has gone through the entire concession process under extant laws, including approval by the Federal Executive Council. So that concession remains in place for the duration of the concession period, which I think is 10 years”.

The Minister was accompanied by the Minster of State for Transportation, Ademola Adegoroye; Minister of Water Resources Eng. Suleiman Adamu; Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation Fidet Okhiria; Chairman Governing Board Nigeria Railway Corporation Ibrahim Musa.

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As Nigerdock recants operational breaches, FG may lift suspension on the facility

The Eyewitness reporter
The Federal Government has expressed its readiness to lift the suspension order on Nigerdock following its willingness to abide by the rules and its contributions to the growth of the National economy.
The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, stated this recently when he visited the firm in Lagos in the company of the Minister of State for Transportation, Prince Ademola Adegoroye and some Management Staff of the Ministry.
Addressing the Chief Executive Officer, Nigerdock, Maher Jarmakani and other officials of the company, the Minister pointed out that the reason why they were suspended was as a result of complaints from other Terminal Operators, saying Nigerdock had operating advantages over them.
“What led to your suspension was that I received complaints from Terminal Operators, saying that you are not on the same level with them. In the sense that they pay more to the government than you do. You’re likely to attract freight at a much lower cost to the detriment of businesses”,  the Minister disclosed.
He, therefore, urged them to liaise with Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to work out all the operational licenses needed to enable them to operate and the latter will forward the same to the Minister of Transportation whose prerogative it is to give approvals.
Speaking further, the Minister said: “We will never do anything to undermine the things you are doing here in terms of generating wealth and jobs for Nigerians.  The only thing we are saying is that the law should be followed. We should not encourage lawlessness “.
Responding, the CEO, Nigerdock, Maher Jarmakani, said the firm has taken notable steps in this regard as they have been granted bonded permits by the Nigerian Customs and they are currently working with Nigerian Ports Authority to ensure all processes of getting the needed approvals are followed accordingly.
“We are seeking your support Honourable Minister and that is why we wrote a letter of appeal for your guidance and your support to see that we have followed all processes and procedures” Jarmakani stated.
Furthermore, Jarmakani informed the Minister that in the 30 years of its existence, Nigerdock has employed more Nigerians than its peers, assuring that the company will not undermine the country’s extant rules and regulations.
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